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Veterans share war stories with UHV freshmen

By Carolina Astrain
Sept. 17, 2013 at 4:17 a.m.

Bud Sappington, a Army veteran, is a member of the Korean War Veteran Association, Chapter #223. Sappington suffered a bullet injury to his face while serving in the Korean War from 1950-54.

BY THE NUMBERS

The Korean War was one of the most violent wars in American history. The war took place between 1950-53. Here's a look at the number of American causalities as a result of the war.

• 36,516 - The number of Americans who were killed.

• 103,284 - The number of Americans who were wounded.

• 8,177 - The number of Americans who were listed as missing in action.

• 37 - The number of months the war endured.

Source: The Korean War and its Historical Impact

TO JOIN

Are you a U.S. veteran who served in Korea between 1945 and the present? Then you may be eligible to join the Korean War Veterans Association, Chapter No. 223. Call 361-578-2628 to learn more.

We call it "The Forgotten War," but to Korean War veteran Bud Sappington, the years between 1950 and 1953 is a time period he will never forget.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War.

Sappington, 82, who served in the U.S. Army from 1947 to 1953, was one of the first soldiers to fight in the Korean War and suffered multiple bullet injuries to the left side of his face, his jaw, shoulder and arm.

"I was also wounded with shrapnel two different times," Sappington said. "I felt awful lucky because I was in close combat for 13 months."

Sappington and four other Korean War Veterans Association, Chapter No. 223 members shared their war stories with a group of freshmen at the University of Houston-Victoria on Tuesday.

This year, all of the university's freshmen are required to read "Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West."

The book, written by Blaine Harden, chronicles a North Korean prison camp inmate's escape to the United States.

Students are required to read the book as part of a First Year Academic Experience Program directed by UHV criminal justice professor J. Keith Akins.

"There's a lot of tensions going on with North Korea right now that most people don't know about," Akins said. "This book gives a real contrast with probably one of the most repressed societies on Earth to the United States. By reading this book, our students will have a picture of how good we have it here and the enormous amount of opportunities they have in their lives."

Karen Borrego, 18, a UHV freshman, said she's almost done with the book.

"It's been a really interesting read," Borrego said. "It's hard to picture that there's stuff like that going on in the world."

The veterans spoke to a full room of students who lined the back walls of the university venue.

"These are men who put their lives on the line and performed a great service," Akins said. "Not just for Americans but for the people of South Korea."

Jang Woo Park, 40, UHV mathematics professor and South Korea native, approached the veterans after the lecture.

Park moved to the U.S. from South Korea 14 years ago.

"It's really an honor to meet individuals who served during the Korean War," Park said. "As a result of the war, South Korea has changed for the better and is now a democracy."

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